HONG KONG'S newest fair and exhibition centre, International Trademart, will open next month in Kowloon Bay. Set in Kowloon's manufacturing and godown area, it will carve its own niche in Hong Kong's competitive trade fair market, according to Michael Ross, the centre's marketing director. With 1.8 million square metres of permanent showroom offices and convention and exhibition space, Trademart should provide an ideal showcase for local manufacturers. 'Unlike the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC), we will be open 365 days a year for overseas buyers to inspect permanent displays. The venue is designed so new fairs will be able to start off with 2,000 sq m of space to test the market. 'Once they grow, they can expand and use all of the 7,000 sq m of exhibition space we have available.' Counting in the Urban Council and District Board elections will be held at the centre on September 17. However, a true test of Trademart's facilities will be on September 21, with the staging of its first major exhibition, Interyarn Asia, an inaugural fair. Although Trademart had not yet opened, the heavy booking schedule for its first year showed it would become a major venue in the territory, Mr Ross said. 'Many sceptics believe Trademart will be operating in the shadow of the CEC and the new extension there. However, we have pitched our venue at new overseas audiences, while retaining fairs on traditional themes. 'Unlike the CEC, above the exhibition centre we have permanent showrooms for companies to have offices and rooms to do business with clients,' he said. 'Companies using these permanent showrooms will pick up business from fairs on related trades, even if they don't exhibit in the halls.' Foreign businessmen can conduct a range of business transactions under the one roof, including banking and liaising with experts for up-to-date trade data. The Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and trade associations from Britain and America will be in the centre, along with foreign banks, travel agents, a post office and representatives from hotels. While new fairs like Messe Frankfurt's Interyarn Asia would use the venue to test the buying market, Trademart would also attract traditional manufacturing shows, Mr Ross said. Located in Wang Chin Street, Kowloon Bay, Trademart was close to Hong Kong's traditional manufacturing base, near godowns, factories and the airport, he said. 'Kowloon Bay is an ideal location for fairs attracting Chinese buyers, as it is close to the freight-forwarding industry and the airport,' Mr Ross said. 'Companies exhibiting heavy and bulky samples will find it cheaper to take them to Kowloon Bay than to transport them to the CEC, where there is a lot of traffic congestion.' Trucks could drive into ground-level halls, making unloading of heavy equipment fast and cost-efficient, Mr Ross said. A lack of dividing posts and poles in the 7,000-sq-m main exhibition hall will allow trucks ample room to manoeuvre. The centre has been designed to ensure truck and car traffic flows during major exhibitions. In addition, 750 underground car spaces will benefit local visitors. 'When we were designing the centre, we knew from the CEC's experience that to succeed we must ensure traffic keeps flowing,' Mr Ross said. 'The centre is well connected to major transport routes and has a free bus service to Kowloon Bay MTR station and the airport. 'Unlike the CEC, there is no accommodation at the Trademart. As a result, many visitors are likely to spend the entire day at the centre doing business.' Trademart is positioned to take advantage of changes in Hong Kong's economy and the local exhibition and fair industry. With exhibition halls of 2,000 sq m, it would attract fairs catering to service industries, Mr Ross said. The fair trade industry was adapting to changes in Hong Kong industry and more exhibitions were promoting value-added services to the service sector, he said.